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International studies offers fun and flexible major

Sept. 29, 2006
By Jennifer Cochran

They come from different countries, speak different languages and have different interests. But what Amanda Wellman, Kana Aoki and Dale Albanese do share is an appreciation for the flexible major Ohio University offers them -- international studies. 

Ohio University's international studies major offers students the opportunity to put together a program consisting of courses in departments across the university.

Amanda Wellman, a senior, wanted to major in anthropology while also studying political science and German when she first came to Ohio University. She found that international studies was one of the few majors that let her combine all three areas.

Ohio University also gave her the opportunity to apply her interests in international affairs and other cultures. She participated in the Model Arab League, German Club and served as an English conversation partner for several international students through the Association for Cultural Exchange.

Wellman also spent much of her time studying abroad. She studied in Salzburg, Austria her sophomore year and spent her junior year studying in Leipzig, Germany. Last summer she traveled to Spain, where she worked on an archeological dig.

"Studying abroad made me understand how an outsider perceives the United States," she said. "It made me aware of how little I know."

Dale Albanese is another example of a student taking advantage of the study-abroad opportunities. He is using his international studies major to gain experience in getting his certificate for teaching English as a foreign language. He is traveling to Ecuador this summer to participate in Ohio University's program.

Albanese participated in the pilot study abroad program in Shandong, China his sophomore year as well. Even though he had no previous experience with the Chinese language, he thought it would be a unique and eye-opening experience. He is now a member of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association and an officer for the International Student Union.

After graduating next year, he hopes to teach abroad through a Fulbright teaching assistantship. He also plans to pursue a graduate degree in East Asian studies.

While some students travel across the globe to apply their classroom learning to practical experience, others do the same thing right here at Ohio University. Kana Aoki, a native of Sendai, Japan, became involved with the Athens community. Her interest in organic food and the environment led her to take an internship with the Athens Farmers Market.

She began her college career as an education major and then switched to international studies. This allowed her to take courses she enjoyed in anthropology and sociology, as well as earn another major in (environmental) economics. Aoki also has a minor in fine arts.

Aside from pursuing a double major and a minor at Ohio University, Aoki is involved in the Japanese Student Association, works in Alden Library's International Collections and volunteers at United Campus Ministries. She fights for environmental and social issues through her work with the Sustainable Living Organization. By doing this, she hopes to forge connections between the university and the Athens Farmers Market.

Laura Schaeffer, who coordinates the undergraduate international studies program, enjoys getting to know students like Albanese, Aoki and Wellman.

"The international studies major gives students a broader understanding of the world, which will help them in their professional and academic lives," Schaeffer says. "Study abroad and language proficiency is built into the major. This prepares students for the increasingly global workplace."

According to Schaeffer, many students go to law school, graduate school or join the Peace Corps after graduation. Afterwards, many choose professions in education, international business and not-for-profit business.

"Any kind of international perspective is going to give you more opportunities," Albanese says. "Doing what you like to do internationally will let you make many connections and friendships. Establishing these networks instills a sense that anything is possible. It demystifies and humanizes other countries and gives you a picture of what you can do in the world.

Jennifer Cochran is the assistant director for communication and graduate programming with the Center for International Studies.


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Published: Sep 29, 2006 6:03:00 AM
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